Lessons from 2012: Keeping a Personal Journal

Home Delivery - North Beach - 2012

Years ago, I tuned into the journaling work of Ira Progoff – reading his books and appreciating what he was advocating. But I never seriously committed to his journaling practice. Just too lazy, I think. (Yes, I did decide to start blogging over 10 years ago – but blogs and journals are different – public/private, etc.)

Earlier this year, I had surgery for prostate cancer. In the process, I reconnected with the notion of keeping a personal journal – and it’s proven to be a very valuable process for me ever since.

Here’s how that happened…

As it turns out, both my Dad and his Dad died from the effects of prostate cancer – and, as a result, I had begun a monitoring regime with my GP a few years ago utilizing PSA tests to monitor the health of my prostate. Two years ago, my PSA results crossed a threshold of concern – which led to me having a series of tests that identified I had a low grade prostate cancer.

After the tests raised the alarm, I sought the advice of prostate cancer specialists at the University of California – San Francisco. We entered an “active surveillance” program – involving periodic ultrasound examinations and PSA screenings. Early this year, my results indicated I’d crossed a threshold – where some sort of active treatment was going to be required. I opted for what’s known as a prostatectomy – a surgical procedure that removes the prostate gland and, in the process, hopefully excises the cancer. In my case, it worked very well – the cancer is gone.

I wanted to start keeping a post-surgery journal following my surgery – and, as it happened, Day One had been released just a few months before. The nerd that I am was attracted to the notion of having a journal in the cloud accessible from all of my various devices – and that’s what Day One promised to deliver. My first journal entry was early the morning of my surgery – as we were heading up to UCSF. My second journal entry was late afternoon the day after my surgery – appropriately titled “Coming Home” – describing how I was heading back home with my catheter installed and walking everywhere with “my bag” on my leg.

Since those initial entries, I’ve written at least once a day in my journal. Initially, mostly about how I was feeling post-surgery. But gradually my focus shifted – as my recovery progressed and I began writing in my journal about other, much more interesting things! Having a quick place to write my thoughts into my journal has been a delightful experience. I wish I’d started this practice a couple of years ago when I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder.

As I look back on the last several months of snapshots of my thoughts captured in journal entries, I smile. They bring back memories, things I noticed at the time and would otherwise forget. Somehow having them at my fingertips just feels satisfying.

My journaling turns out to be a new treat – another lesson I learned in 2012.